Despite their impressive promotion campaign, many expected Bournemouth to struggle with the step up to the Premier League.
Their first month back in the top flight seemed to confirm those doubts, but an early managerial change turned their campaign around.
The Cherries battled against the odds to maintain their top-flight status by finishing 15th in the Premier League last season.
Consolidating their place in the division will be the primary objective this year, but whether they can take that vital next step remains to be seen.
Here is our Bournemouth season preview for 2023/24. You can also check out our detailed Premier League season previews for all 20 teams.
Bournemouth face West Ham United (H), Liverpool (A) and Tottenham Hotspur (H) in their opening three fixtures of the 2023/24 Premier League season.
Their run of games does not get any easier in September, with a tough clash against Chelsea (H) sandwiched between trips to Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion. They end the month by hosting Arsenal.
Navigating a challenging opening two months of the season will greatly determine how high Bournemouth finish in the Premier League this season.
Bournemouth are set for a busy December with seven fixtures scheduled, including trips to Manchester United and Spurs as well as a Boxing Day clash with Fulham at the Vitality Stadium.
They kick off 2024 playing host to Liverpool before heading to East London for their reverse fixture against West Ham on January 30.
Bournemouth’s rematch with Brighton is scheduled for April 27. Their final home game of the season sees them face Brentford on May 11 before closing out the campaign with a trip to Chelsea on May 19.
Bournemouth raised several eyebrows when they announced their decision to part ways with Gary O’Neil despite doing a phenomenal job of securing their top-flight status.
The English manager was appointed caretaker manager after Scott Parker was sacked a month into the season, and 12 games was all it took to convince the board he was the right man for the job.
However, the club’s seemingly harsh decision to cut ties with O’Neil could yet prove to be another smart move that takes them to the next level, considering they replaced him with Andoni Iraola.
Although not yet a popular name in Europe, Iraola was one of the most impressive managers in La Liga before moving to the South Coast.
The 41-year-old successfully led Rayo Vallecano from the Spanish second division to La Liga and quickly established them as a top-flight club, despite their financial limitations.
Under his leadership, Vallecano finished 12th in their first season back and nearly secured a spot in the Europa Conference League the following season, finishing just four points shy.
Appointing Iraola may have been a shot in the dark from Bournemouth’s perspective, but it adds to the uncertainty of how the team will perform in his debut season.
However, the Cherries will undoubtedly fancy their chances of improving on last season’s standing and strive for a mid-table placement.
Bournemouth have been quite active this summer, splashing around £60 million to sign Justin Kluivert, Hamed Traore, Romain Favre, Milos Kerkez, and goalkeeper Andrei Radu.
Kluivert and Traore have joined from Serie A clubs AS Roma and Sassuolo, respectively, for a combined £29.5m. Favre cost £12.8m after joining from Olympique Lyon, although he will spend the season on loan at Lorient.
Kerkez has been viewed as a highly coveted capture after the Cherries beat several European clubs to his signature.
The 19-year-old joined for an undisclosed fee, although it is believed the Hungarian teenager set Bournemouth back around £18 million.
Meanwhile, Radu arrived on a season-long loan from Inter Milan and should provide competition for Neto, who is approaching the twilight of his career.
Jefferson Lerma and Junior Stanislas are the only notable departures from this summer, with both players running down their contracts.
Bournemouth already boast a talented squad, but they are not done with their summer business, with a move for Bristol City’s highly rated teener Alex Scott on the cards.
They may need to add at least another striker to bolster their goalscoring options.
Bournemouth have managed to keep most of their players, but their default line-up could see a few tweaks with a couple of new faces linking up with the squad.
Neto’s experience was crucial to Bournemouth’s survival campaign, with the Brazilian keeping six clean sheets while maintaining a 7.0 average rating. He should have enough in the tank to retain his place in goal.
Kerkez is likely to be the only change from a defence that registered the worst defensive record in the club’s top-flight history, which included Illia Zabarnyi, Marcos Senesi, and Adam Smith.
Jefferson Lerma and Lewis Cook anchored the midfield last term. But Philip Billing could drop into the double pivot role to partner Cook following Lerma’s departure.
Jaidon Anthony, Traore, and Dango Ouattara should form a dangerous attacking trio behind Dominic Solanke, who is expected to lead the line.
Here is our prediction for Bournemouth’s strongest starting XI next season:
4-2-3-1: Neto; Kerkez, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Smith; Billing, Cook; Anthony, Traore, Ouattara; Solanke.
After hitting 29 goals in Bournemouth’s promotion-winning campaign, there was uncertainty about Solanke’s ability to reproduce his eye-catching numbers in the Premier League.
While he was not exactly a contender for the golden boot, his attacking returns were respectable, especially considering the Cherries were touted as relegation contenders.
Solanke scored six times in 33 league games. But he made up for his paltry numbers by providing an additional seven assists.
His goal contribution played a key role in Bournemouth’s survival, but he would be keen to improve his performances in front of goal this season.
It could be a season of good cheers for the Bournemouth supporters, especially with an astute manager in the dugout.
After surviving relegation, their focus should be on establishing themselves as a top-flight regular, and Iraola may be the man to lead them into the new era.
We expect them to finish comfortably above the relegation zone, but it would be too soon to expect a top-half push from the Cherries.
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